Treating Porphyria

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Question

What is Hemin?

Answer

Hemin is a medication used to treat symptoms of certain blood disorders, especially porphyria. It may help treat symptoms, such as pain, high blood pressure, fast heartbeat and mental or mood changes. Hemin is a type of medication called an enzyme inhibitor. It's made from red blood cells, and it helps treat porphyria symptoms by lowering the amount of a certain enzyme that the body produces. Hemin is injected into a vein by a healthcare professional in a hospital or clinic. It is usually given as soon as an episode of porphyria begins, and it is administered through an IV treatment lasting about 10 to 15 minutes. Hemin may be given once a day for up to two weeks or as directed by your doctor. Make sure you take hemin exactly as directed by your doctor.

Considerations before using Hemin

Because hemin is made from human blood, there's a slight chance that it may contain substances (such as viruses) that cause infections. This risk is small because blood is screened and treated to reduce the chances that it contains infectious substances. However, tell your doctor right away if you develop signs of an infection after using hemin. These symptoms may include fever, sore throat or yellowing of the skin and eyes. It's important to use hemin exactly as directed by your doctor, since using too much of it or using it for too long may cause serious kidney damage.

If you're allergic to any ingredient in hemin or to latex rubber, you shouldn't use this medication. People with porphyria cutanea tarda should not be treated with hemin. It may harm a developing fetus or nursing baby, so talk to your doctor before using hemin if you're pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have questions about whether you should get a hemin injection, talk to your doctor.

Hemin interactions with other medications

Hemin may interact with other medications and increase the risk for side effects, so tell your doctor about any medications or supplements you are taking before you use hemin. This is especially important if you are taking any anticoagulants or blood thinners; corticosteroids; barbiturates, including phenobarbital, amobarbital, secobarbital and others; birth control pills or other hormone medications. Other medications and substances not listed here may interact with hemin, so talk to your doctor if you have questions about possible interactions.

Hemin side effects

In rare cases, hemin may cause a severe allergic reaction that leads to difficulty breathing, swelling in the face or throat, dizziness and hives. If you develop these symptoms after using hemin, get immediate medical attention. Other serious side effects of hemin may include unusual bruising or bleeding, urinating less or not at all and weight gain. Hemin also may cause less severe side effects, including pain or swelling along the veins, irritation around the IV needle and fever. Other side effects may be possible, so talk to your doctor if any new or unusual symptoms develop after receiving a hemin injection.

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